Scientific Workshops, Symposiums

A number of joint workshops and symposiums were held between Switzerland and South Africa to exchange knowledge in existing research projects and develop proposals feeding into new projects over 160 workshops took place among the joint research projects during 2008 – 2018. Examples include:

  • 2012 Climate Change Workshop
  • 2014 Nanotechnology Workshop
  • 2014 Social Sciences Workshop in cooperation with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the University of Basel – supported by the DSI and the NRF
  • 2015 World Café together with the Swiss Leading House and the HSRC in the domain of science systems with a specific focus on opportunities in the South African National System of Innovation (NSI) 
  • 2017 Nanotechnology Workshop

National and International Conferences

South Africa hosts a number of scientific and innovation international conferences, congresses and forums, often for the first time on African soil. Switzerland prioritizes its participation in these events through jointly hosting, representation and participation and often sponsorship. Such events are normally followed by a networking opportunity for the Swiss and South African scientific, official and political community. A few Examples are:

  • Swiss Participation in the South African Innovation Summit 
  • South African Scientific Dialogues• Science Forum South Africa
  • Open Design Festival
  • Seedstars Africa Summit

Innovation challenges

Swiss-South Africa Innovation Challenge

A joint Swiss-Africa Innovation Challenge was launched in 2017, linked to the ETH Zurich Urban Think Tank housing project in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The idea was to introduce innovations into the informal housing sector that could make a sound contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. A highlight of the challenge was a sponsorship received from the private sector to establish a pilot house where these innovations could be tested. The opportunity was used to showcase the Swiss-South African innovations at the South African Innovation Summit in 2017, while hosting a World Café for the Swiss and South African entrepreneurs.Over 40 000 individuals were contacted, with over 300 telephonic contacts made during the process, to ensure submissions. The Challenge lasted for four weeks, after which the various proposals were evaluated and categorised according to both technical and institutional criteria.

Grassroots Innovation Challenge

The Grassroots Innovation Programme is a new initiative by the Department of Science and Innovation, implemented by the Technology Innovation Agency to encourage ordinary people to receive support to develop their innovations that can address local challenges. The GIP sought to fill its pipeline through a roadshow event in each province and partnered with the Embassy and the Mphaphuli Development Trust (MDT) to deliver a two-day roadshow which included presentations and community dialogues on innovation, technology entrepreneurship skills workshops, a movie and pitch battles.This roadshow provided the platform for the MDT and the Embassy to share their plans to connect academia and community through applied research and innovation.

The Embassy participated in wide media coverage before, during and after the event. This promoted Switzerland as an innovation destination and a partner for collaboration in education, research and innovation in the Thulamela District of Limpopo.

Innovation Challenge
Innovation Challenge © FDFA